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Los Angeles Employment Law Blog

Retaliation still a fear of Google employees

Though most workplaces in California are welcoming when it comes to the concerns of employees, there are those companies that may discourage employees from speaking out. In extreme cases, there are some workplaces that will actively punish employees for attempting to call out bad practices at their companies. There are laws in place meant to protect employees from retaliation, but it still happens. This is what many employees allege about tech giant Google, which has come under fire for similar accusations in the past.

Late last year, several employees staged a walkout in protest of how Google was handling accusations of sexual misconduct. The employees alleged that the company retaliated against those who brought instances of sexual harassment and misconduct to light. They claimed when they brought these concerns to appropriate departments that the company demoted them, removed them from certain projects and even moved them to other less advantageous projects.

Understanding your right to seek accommodations at work

Your disability does not define you. In fact, you probably focus more on what you can do rather than on what you cannot do. You have the education, experience and skill to do the job for which your employer hired you, but you may need one or two modifications that will allow you to perform any non-essential duties the job requires.

Fortunately, the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against you based on your disability. If you are otherwise qualified to perform the essential duties of a job, an employer may not refuse to hire you, promote you or allow you to remain in a position. In fact, the law compels your employer to provide reasonable accommodations to allow you to perform your duties at work.

Detective awarded over $1m for whistleblower claim

Most employees in California are fortunate enough to be treated well by their employers. However, when an employer retaliates against an employee who witnesses wrongdoing, the worker may not know exactly how to resolve the situation. One detective from out of state was recently awarded over $1 million in connection with his whistleblower claim. This was after he alleged that state police punished him for contradicting the circumstances around the death of a deputy.

The detective was working in crash reconstruction and testified that a fatal crash that killed both a civilian and a deputy was the fault of the deputy. He claimed that the deputy was driving recklessly and traveling at a high rate of speed before the impact. He also said that state police changed reports to eliminate findings that the deputy was driving unsafely and include the blood-alcohol measurement of the civilian. That was despite the detective saying that the civilian's blood-alcohol content was not a factor in the crash.

Workplace discrimination: Phlebotomist awarded $1.5m

Employees should never have to feel unsafe at work, but unfortunately, many of them do. Some may feel as though they are judged for being a certain religion, sexuality, race or other protected class. This is what one phlebotomist at the University of California Los Angeles alleges happened to her, when she says she faced workplace discrimination due to her race.

According to the former employee's lawsuit, she says she experienced racially motivated discrimination, harassment and retaliation. She claims that another employee used a particular racial slur to refer to her and used another racial slur in conversation on many occasions. She also says that other co-workers said derogatory things in regard to her skin color and threw away or altered blood specimens she collected. She also says that UCLA fired her despite the fact she had never been reprimanded for anything.

"Criminal Minds" camera operator alleges sexual harassment

When people hear about sexual harassment in the workplace, they often assume the victim is a woman, but that isn't always the case. Men can also be targets for unwanted sexual attention while on the job, and they have the right, just like women, to not be treated that way. One male camera operator on the set of TV show "Criminal Minds" recently filed a suit here in California, showing how important it is for men to speak up when they experience sexual harassment. It can sometimes be difficult, but it is equally important as when a woman does so.

The man was originally hired to be a second assistant camera operator for "Criminal Minds" back in 2011. He alleges that the director of photography, a supervisor, harassed and battered him several times a week over the course of his career. The camera operator says his supervisor touched him sexually, screamed at him and threatened to fire or demote him. He also alleges that his supervisor prevented him from taking time off to care for his ailing daughter.

Wage theft is a serious issue that affects numerous workers

Because money is what allows most people to live their lives and meet daily needs, it is important that California residents receive proper compensation for the services they carry out. You may not have the most glamorous job, but you likely still rely on the paycheck you receive to provide for yourself and, possibly, your family.

When something seems off about your paycheck or you end up working off the clock, you may not receive the compensation you deserve. In some cases, a payroll error may result in a paycheck coming late or being a few dollars short, but in other instances, an employer may purposefully pay you incorrectly, and that action constitutes wage theft.

New law protects nurses in retaliation and whistleblower claims

Employees in the health care industry put their trust in their employers to do the right thing when it comes to patient treatment. Unfortunately, sometimes a company will prioritize profits over people, which can have disastrous consequences. Many health care workers want to hold their employers accountable when this kind of thing occurs, but they may fear being fired and having difficulty finding new employment. Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation that will give additional protection to health care workers when it comes to retaliation and whistleblower claims.

The law will protect workers and patients who speak out against any company practices or incidents that endanger patients or employees. Workers who blow the whistle are protected from discrimination or retaliation if they make a formal complaint. Workers can go straight to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health without worrying that hospital management needs to be involved.

Grocery workers may strike over wage and hour claims

These days, it can be difficult for families to make ends meet. Most people expect that if they work full time, they should be able to make enough money to provide for themselves and their loved ones. However, employees across industries report that higher costs of living and stagnant wages make that difficult. Some say that their employers are not properly compensating them for their work, by not paying them for hours worked or not providing them with proper meal and rest breaks. This is why grocery workers in Southern California are considering a strike.

Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union are very close to approving a strike that would affect several thousand workers. Representatives say that the corporations who own three large grocery chains -- Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons -- are taking in huge profits and enjoying significant tax cuts without providing adequate raises to employees. They say that employees have to work more than one job to take care of themselves and their loved ones, which they don't believe should be necessary.

Video game publisher accused of gender, workplace discrimination

Employees expect that they will be treated fairly by their employer. Unfortunately, that is not always what happens. Some employers will treat certain employees in ways that they do not deserve, simply because they are of a different gender, sexual orientation, religion or part of another protected class. Workplace discrimination laws exist to protect employees in those classes and to provide them with a path for legal recourse. A video game publisher, Riot Games, is contending with those issues as the company faces a civil lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Representatives from the DFEH claim that they asked Riot Games to show them evidence of employee salaries and pay information. They say that it is part of their investigation of alleged gender discrimination. The investigation started late last year and DFEH claims that Riot Games has not complied with its request. Representatives for DFEH are examining claims of unequal pay, sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation and gender discrimination, all allegedly directed at female employees.

Study shows California has higher rate of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a nation-wide problem. Ever since the #MeToo movement, the news is rife with examples of both women and men being harassed by people in positions of power. Sexual harassment anywhere is unacceptable, but it is particularly hurtful within the workplace. Unfortunately, a recent study says California has higher rates sexual harassment than the rest of the nation. Experts have a few theories regarding this finding.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Center on Gender Equity and Health at UC San Diego. The researchers report that while 81% of women in the United States say they have experienced sexual harassment, 86% of women in California have said the same. When looking at men, the national percentage is 43% while the California rate was all the way up to 53%.

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